Elderly Woman Doing PaperworkEstate planning experts agree that one of the most important – and loving – actions that a person can take is to set out in clear terms how his or her property should be handled following death. A properly drafted last will and testament can prevent family squabbles. It can actually save money. It can preserve assets for that spendthrift child who has a great heart, but no sense of finances.

Aside from the question of how one wants to handle or dispose of various property interests, there is the important issue of who will perform the duties of executor or trustee on behalf of the dearly departed.

Choosing an Executor for Your Will

Who will take hold of your affairs after your death, see to the probate of will, pay your just debts, and make appropriate distribution of your assets to the persons or entities whom you have identified? Those tasks fall upon the shoulders of the executor named in the will. What sort of person should be named? Here are there suggestions:

  •  The person should be stable, trustworthy, and financially responsible. Legal experts add that all three characteristics are necessary; two out of three is usually insufficient. Your spouse, for example, may certainly be trustworthy and stable, but if he or she isn’t confident with financial issues, that person may not be the most appropriate for the job.
  •  The person should be of such an age and state of health that he or she will likely outlive you. This characteristic is sometimes forgotten. That older brother whom you have admired and respected since childhood might have all the qualities needed to serve as an executor. Will he likely outlive you, however? It doesn’t do much good to name a person who will likely predecease you.
  •  The person should have some measure of “thick skin.” You’ve made various decisions in the drafting of your will. All those decisions may not be popular with everyone. The executor has a fiduciary duty to abide by the terms of the will, even in the face of threatened litigation. If your executor’s nature is to be too accommodating, you may be placing him or her in an awkward position.

The Executor Need Not Do All the Work

Remember, however, that the executor need not do all the work. In many instances, the executor hires professional assistance – usually an experienced attorney – to give guidance and advice and to help with the administrative duties. While there will be some expense in taking this route, in many cases hiring a skilled attorney saves time, energy, and heartache.

Experienced Legal Counsel is a Key to a Successful Estate

Are you contemplating making or changing your will? Have you been recently named executor or trustee in a loved one’s estate? Are you concerned that a loved one’s will might be contested by family members or others? Do you have general questions about estate planning? In any of these situations, experienced, skilled legal counsel is a must. You need not shoulder the burdens alone. The Duval/St. Johns County area law firm of Beller & Bustamante, P.L. can help you sort through your situation. We have the knowledge and skill to represent your interests vigorously. We can help craft a will or other estate planning document that embodies your thoughts and concerns. Contact us online or call us at (904) 288-4414 today.